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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Roberto Mancini

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Roberto Mancini played for Lazio from 1997 to 2000 and was manager from 2002 to 2004.

Lazio had loads of players that could be defined as the scudetto winners, but Roberto Mancini was the one who changed the Lazio mentality. Rome is not an easy city in which to play football, especially at Lazio. To win one needs common intent: players, club, fans, media, all have to row in the same direction, otherwise a win is impossible. The arrival of Mancini at Lazio changed everything and the Biancocelesti started to win.

Mancini was a flamboyant forward with great footballing intelligence. He was not a number 9 but not a number 10 either, somewhere in the middle. He had a very strong personality and was a leader on the pitch and in the changing rooms.

Roberto Mancini was born in Jesi, near Ancona, on November 27, 1964. At the age of 13 he joined Bologna where he played in the youth teams. He debuted in the A team in Coppa Italia on September 6 ,1981 and a week later in Serie A. He was the sixth youngest player to debut in Serie A history. He played every single game that season for Bologna and scored 9 goals.

In the summer of 1982 he signed for Sampdoria. President Paolo Mantovani was very ambitious and wanted to build a team starting with the best Italian young players. A few years later he was joined by Gianluca Vialli and the two became a formidable attacking duo. Mancini stayed in Genoa for 15 years. He played 567 games and scored 171 goals. He won a scudetto in 1990-91, 4 times the Coppa Italia (1984-85, 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1993-94), a Cup Winners Cup in 1989-90 and a Super Coppa in 1991. He came agonizingly close to winning a European Cup in 1992 when Sampdoria lost to Barcelona at Wembley in extra time.

In 1997 Sven Goran Eriksson became Lazio’s new manager. When he arrived, he told President Sergio Cragnotti that he needed three players to win the scudetto: Sinisa Mihajlovic, Juan Sebastian Veron and Roberto Mancini. The latter had become a free agent after a decision not to renew his contract with Sampdoria, and he was looking for an ambitious team. Eriksson and Cragnotti convinced him to come to Rome.

At Lazio he helped change the mentality of the team. Lazio became a power to reckon with. Under Dino Zoff and Zdenek Zeman at times they had been very strong but lacked continuity. To win the scudetto you needed to beat the greats but also win against the smaller teams. And this is what Lazio were able to do in the most fantastic three years of their history. In the first season, the Biancocelesti reached two cup finals. They won the Coppa Italia against Milan (first silverware since 1974) but lost the UEFA Cup final to Inter. In campionato, the start had been difficult. They did beat Roma 3-1 but after the 11th game they were 9th, 12 points off leaders Inter. They then did not lose for 16 games so after the 27th game Lazio were third, two points behind leaders Juventus and one behind Inter. The game against Juventus could have meant topping Serie A, but Lazio lost. A few penalties ignored by referee Collina, Angelo Peruzzi saves, and the lack of experience playing at these levels translated into a bad day. The Biancocelesti crumbled in Serie A and made just one point in the remaining 6 games. But they had won a trophy and that was really something. Mancini played 52 games and scored 9 goals in all competitions.

In his second year Eriksson moved him to midfield. In attack Lazio had Marcelo Salas and Christian Vieri but the latter had suffered an injury early in season and only came back in January. From then on Mancini moved back behind the forwards. Lazio were top for a number of games but in the end lost the scudetto again due to “helpful referees”. But they won two trophies: the Italian Super Coppa and the last Cup Winners Cup. Mancini played 47 games and scored 12 goals.

In 1999-00 the scudetto. Mancini played less, just 37 games with three goals, and decided that it was going to be his last year as a footballer. An end with a bang, as Lazio also won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United.

In total, Mancio played 136 times for Lazio (87 in Serie A, 21 in Coppa Italia, 9 in Champions League, 7 in the Cup Winners Cup, 10 in the UEFA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a Super Coppa) with 24 goals (15 in Serie A, 6 in Coppa Italia, 3 in the UEFA Cup). With Lazio he won a scudetto, the Coppa Italia twice, a Cup Winners Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a Super Coppa.

Mancini had a problematic relationship with the Nazionale. Despite being one the greatest players of his generation, he only has 36 caps (4 goals) and the only major tournament he played in was Euro 1988. He was part of the squad for the 1990 World Cup but never played. The main problem was the fact that the Italy managers preferred Roberto Baggio, and so he missed out.

After quitting football he decided to become a manager and his first job was assistant to Eriksson at Lazio. After a series of poor results, and with a contract to become England manager starting from the summer of 2001, Eriksson resigned in January 2001 and so did Mancini.

At this point he surprisingly signed for Leicester City as a player. In a month he played five games but decided to quit once Fiorentina tempted him with a managerial job. He became Viola manager in February 2001. Fiorentina had already qualified for the Coppa Italia final and Mancini led them to victory. He was confirmed for the 2001-02 season but financial difficulties, poor results and threats from supporters, led to him to resign in January.

As soon as he quit, the rumours of him moving to Lazio started. This did not help Alberto Zaccheroni, even though his reign as manager had been pretty dismal. Zaccheroni had replaced Dino Zoff at the beginning of the season. The bad relationship the manager had with both players and fans eventually paved the way for the return of Mancio to Lazio.

His first problems at Lazio were the loss of Alessandro Nesta and Hernan Crespo on the last day of the summer transfer window. Lazio had financial difficulties and had to sell players in order to pay wages. However Mancini managed to make the most of it and Lazio began the season very well, even reaching top place in the Campionato. However, a poor winter spell took Lazio out of the title race but maintained Champions League qualification hope. Lazio ended up fourth and were to play the qualifying round. The Biancocelesti also reached the semi-finals of both the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. They played spectacularly well and were a pleasure to watch.

Problems started in his second year. Mancini, who in the meantime with the resignation of Sergio Cragnotti had been made a member of the board of directors, increased his salary from €1.5 million a year to €7.5 million, but the players had been asked to cut their wages and/or accept shares as partial payment. This created a first internal riff. The second was Mancio’s decision to change from a 4-4-2 formation to 3-5-2. The team was not really too happy. Lazio managed to qualify for the Champions League group phase but was unable to get through, playing very, very badly. In Campionato, things were not all that great and, even if they did fight all season for a place in the next Champions League, Lazio missed out. However, the Coppa Italia campaign was triumphant and Lazio won the Cup.

Mancini knew that he was going to leave at the end of the season and early on started talks with Inter. He also tried to convince some players to follow him. The fans had no idea what was happening internally and thought that Mancini was their knight in shining armour, but he wasn’t. At the end of the season, with Lazio in deep financial trouble (also due to his large wage increase), he left and joined Inter. He would never have stayed in a club with little money and with Claudio Lotito as President, but he could have been more sincere with the fans.

At Inter, in his first year he won the Coppa Italia and came third in Serie A. He did the same in his second year, but, with the outbreak of the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus was stripped of the title, Milan penalised 30 points, so Inter won the 2005-06 scudetto. He would win it again in the next two years too, as well as a couple of Super Coppas. Despite the wins, the relationship with President Massimo Moratti worsened considerably and in May 2008 he was sacked.

After over a year of inactivity, in December 2009 he became manager of Manchester City. In his first season they reached a Europa League qualification. Things improved in his second year with a FA Cup win and a direct qualification to the Champions League. In his third year he won the Community Shield and the premiership in a dramatic match. 2-1 down in the final game, City managed to overturn the score in the last possible second (Sergio Aguero's famous goal).

His third and last year at City started well with the Community Shield win, but a poor Champions League campaign, problems in relationships with the players and a loss in the FA Cup final to Wigan led to his sacking.

In September 2013 he became manager of Galatasaray. He stayed a year, winning the Turkish Cup. However, budget cuts meant that ambitious Mancio would not have the players that he wanted so the two parties parted.

In November 2014 he returned to Inter. The first year of his second stint in Milan was dismal but his second started well and Inter were top of the Campionato for a long time. But the team collapsed at the beginning of 2016 and ended up 4th. He was going to stay but problems with the new management led to him to resign in August.

After being unemployed for a year, in 2017 he signed for Zenit Saint Petersburg. He stayed for just one season and in May 2018 he became the new Italy manager. Italy had failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 and they needed a revolution.

With Italy he did really well. 37 games without losing, victory in Euro 2020 beating England at Wembley on penalties. However, were Italy playing well? Not really. They had been lucky in the Euros but the media failed to see that. The continuous use of players who were not all that great or who had been great but had now passed their prime should have raised some alarm bells. When you have probably one of the greatest goal scoring machines in Italian football history, Ciro Immobile, you should put him in a position to exploit his talent as much as possible. But Mancini didn’t think so, hence Immobile was always forced to play for the rest of the team, often back to the goal, in a role which was not his cup of tea. The media had a field day in criticizing Immobile. Why does he score so much at Lazio and not for Italy? A massacre.

Italy should have qualified for the 2022 World Cup with no problems at all, but in September 2021 the Nazionale stopped scoring. It did not help that Jorginho missed two decisive penalties against Switzerland either. Italy came second in their group and were forced to a play off against North Macedonia in the semi-finals. They lost 1-0, so there was no World Cup for the second time running.

Despite this incredible debacle, he is still Italy's manager. The Italian Federation, ready to throw his predecessor Gian Piero Ventura, quite rightly, to the lions after missing out on the previous campaign, never doubted Mancini, despite a number of mistakes.

However on August 4, 2023 Mancini resigned. He claimed that the President of the Italian Federation, Gabriele Gravina, had changed his staff without asking him so he decided to quit. Immediately after came the rumours that Mancio was going to be the new Saudi Arabia head coach and that is exactly what happened. The announcement came on August 27. He will earn a lot more money.

Lazio career


Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup


UEFA Super Cup

Super Coppa


52 (9)

34 (5)

8 (1)



10 (3)




47 (12)

33 (10)

6 (2)







37 (3)


7 (3)







136 (24)

87 (15)

21 (6)



10 (3)





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